Behind the Anna Wintour sunglasses, around the corner from the Empire State Building, and hidden from the binoculars next to the Statue of Liberty are some of the best hidden gems of New York City. As one of the most visited and explored cities in the world, it can feel like everything has already been seen, photographed, and catalogued. But keep that East Coast unflappability in check–the Big Apple is always full of surprises. Here are some of the top off-the-beaten-path attractions in NYC:
Getting Stoned During Dinner
As you meander around The Big Apple, it’s hard to find a street that isn’t jam-packed with curious people and honking taxis. It’s a tight squeeze for one person to have enough breathing room, let alone space for dozens of folks to enjoy their time comfortably. Well, make a sharp turn onto the two blocks of Stone Street in the Financial District. As the first paved road in NYC, this stretch of cobblestones between iconic buildings is a peaceful sight in the otherwise chaotic city. On summer nights, you can find a number of tables and chairs set up, as Stone Street restaurants serve everything from Italian to Middle Eastern delicacies. Bring the munchies.
Sex, Photographs, and One Bathroom
With over 450 museums, New York City is one of the most museum-filled towns in the country—with quite a few unusual exhibits in the mix. If you want to skip the popular Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, head on over to any of the off-the-wall New York attractions.
Start with the Elevator Historical Society in Queens, which celebrates elevator tools, old-fashioned plaques, and intricate car ceilings. Yes, the museum is accessible by elevator. Next, if you missed the not-quite-classic movie “A Troll in Central Park,” you can still check out the Troll Museum in the Lower East Side. Head’s up: It can get a bit hairy in there. The National Museum of Mathematics is another odd choice. You won’t find any literature majors inside, but numbers nerds quite like it. For a few not-so-off-the-beaten path selections, the Sex Museum (self-explanatory), the Tenement Museum (about urban immigrant 19th century life), and the Alice Austen House (featuring Alice Austen photography) are also unique sites to explore.
Ghost Station, Live Conductor
To put it lightly, you might see a number of odd things during your time on the famous NYC subway system. Rats, ratty flashers, and flashing lights are all part of the…charm. But there is a hidden gem just beyond the end of the line on the downtown 6 train at the Brooklyn Bridge Station: the abandoned City Hall Station stop. Turn-of-the-century tiles, skylights, and chandeliers make it a sparkling jewel that’s been lying in wait since 1945. Today, the station is open for a few tours throughout the year. To sign up for an outing through the landmark, you’ll have to become a member of the New York Transit Museum and purchase a ticket before they sell out. For a poor-man’s tour, convince the conductor to let you stay on the train as it passes along to uptown during daylight hours or when a tour is in session.
Patches of Strange Green Stuff
The City that Never Sleeps is a concrete jungle of steel, glass, and wires, which makes grassy areas such unusual sights. Sure, Central Park and Washington Square Park are popular spots in town, but you can skip the crowds by wandering to the hidden greens in the Big Apple. Find your way to Fort Tryon Park, a Hudson Heights grassy space dedicated to the city by John D. Rockefeller in 1917. The old stone archways are classic New York, with several hidden nooks and crannies perfect for amateur photography. For something a little more edgy, venture over to the High Line on the West Side. This abandoned freight rail line has been transformed into a park, although its steel rails are still in view amongst the natural vegetation. Several coffee stands and taco booths are beginning to dot the line, so check it out before it becomes a hipster paradise.
Toss out your guide book and see attractions of The Big Apple left off city maps. This is a town with just as many unique alleyways and abandoned stations as famous sites. See the city’s underbelly and experience sides of NYC you won’t find featured on any postcard.
Have you discovered any hidden gems in NYC?
Featured photo attribution: Flickr/Creative Commons/Salim Virji/Via/https://flic.kr/p/5JH4ms